It is the soldiers' very duty to crush the Palestinians' will for freedom to leave them utterly hopeless
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It has been a week of appalling abuses committed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank little different from the other 2,670 weeks endured by Palestinians since the occupation began in 1967.
The difference this past week was that several entirely unexceptional human rights violations that had been caught on film went viral on social media.
One shows a Palestinian father in the West Bank city of Hebron leading his son by the hand to kindergarten. The pair are stopped by two heavily armed soldiers, there to help enforce the rule of a few hundred illegal Jewish settlers over the city's Palestinian population.
The soldiers scream at the father, repeatedly and violently push him and then grab his throat as they accuse his small son of throwing stones. As the father tries to shield his son from the frightening confrontation, one soldier pulls out his rifle and sticks it in the father's face @mossi_raz.
It is a minor incident by the standards of Israel's long-running belligerent occupation. But it powerfully symbolises the unpredictable, humiliating, terrifying and sometimes deadly experiences faced daily by millions of Palestinians.
A video of another such incident emerged last week. A Palestinian man is ordered to leave an area by an armed Israeli policewoman. He turns and walks slowly away, his hands in the air. Moments later she shoots a sponge-tipped bullet into his back. He falls to the ground, writhing in agony @yishaiporat
It is unclear whether the man was being used for target practice or simply for entertainment.
The reason such abuses are so commonplace is that they are almost never investigated and even less often are those responsible punished.
It is not simply that Israeli soldiers become inured to the suffering they inflict on Palestinians daily. It is the soldiers' very duty to crush the Palestinians' will for freedom, to leave them utterly hopeless. That is what is required of an army policing a population permanently under occupation.
The message is only underscored by the impunity the soldiers enjoy. Whatever they do, they have the backing not only of their commanders but of the government and courts.
Just that point was underlined late last month. An unnamed Israeli army sniper was convicted of shooting dead a 14-year-old boy in Gaza last year. The Palestinian child had been participating in one of the weekly protests at the perimeter fence.
Such trials and convictions are a great rarity. Despite damning evidence showing that Uthman Hillis was shot in the chest with a live round while posing no threat, the court sentenced the sniper to the equivalent of a month's community service.
In Israel's warped scales of justice, the cost of a Palestinian child's life amounts to no more than a month of extra kitchen duties for his killer.
But the overwhelming majority of the 220 Palestinian deaths at the Gaza fence over the past 20 months will never be investigated. Nor will the wounding of tens of thousands more Palestinians, many of them now permanently disabled.
There is an equally disturbing trend. The Israeli public have become so used to seeing YouTube videos of soldiers their sons and daughters abuse Palestinians that they now automatically come to the soldiers' defence, however egregious the abuses.
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